A while back we posted a great tip about the magic of high pass filters and when to use them to thin out and clear up your mixes. But today, we’re taking a look at one of the most important parts of your productions – the bass.
Every genre requires a different treatment of the low end – country rarely sees a massive low end, while a weak bottom in hip-hop is…well…weak.
So don’t go over generalizing on these tips – use them according to your genre and desired effect. Also, the amount of which you apply these tips can either create a subtle tight bass or a massive rumble. Mainly, you’ve just got to decide what is appropriate for your genre. So here we go – five ways to get an awesome low end on your production.
1. Use compression, but use it wisely. A multi-band compressor is a great way to tighten up individual tracks (like a sub bass or bass guitar, or kick drum), and can even be used on your entire mix. Too little compression and your low end will be flabby, but too much and you’ll be looking at a suffocated low end.
2. Use EQ wisely – making as many cuts as boosts. I like to use that as a rule of thumb – if I boost something by 3 dB, should I be instead boosting by 1.5 dB and cutting 1.5 dB somewhere else? I find this true if you’re going for a deep, rumbling bass. Boosting anywhere from 20-50 Hz and cutting around 250-500 Hz can really open it up and give it a deep, big bass tone.
3. Layer a “sub bass” track in with the rest of your mix. A sub bass is usually a simple sine wave that is played in a very low octave. By adding a designated “low end” bass part, you can control exactly how much is in the mix. Remember, if you do this, you’ll want to take out some of the low end in your other bass parts.
4. Get the right balance of kick and bass. This can make a track either stand out or sound rather messy. In order to make sure you’ve got a good balance, be sure that you can hear the kick drum cut through the bass, and the bass should not be much softer than the kick drum. Keeping these at a good, comparable level will ensure that you have an effective low end.
5. Use headphones to check your bass, in addition to any speaker systems you can find. Especially if you’re in an untreated room, it can be difficult to get an accurate representation of the low end from your monitors. That’s why headphones can often be one of the best ways to go. Listen on a lot of systems and compare to commercial recordings to make sure you’re in check.
Try these five tips out, and you’ll be sure to get some great low end in your productions!